For years now - longer, I think, than I consciously realised - I’ve wanted to run creative retreats.
Mine and my husband’s pipe dream before we were even married was a chalet in the French Alps, where he would run cycling and ski trips, and I would run creative holidays in a beautiful setting. Nice idea, eh?
When the girls came along we decided that, in a few years (ideally before they started school) we would move to his homeland of Dorset. I window-shopped on Zoopla for country cottages with barns, workshops, stables, studios - any kind of space I could make beautiful and inviting for gatherings and crafts. We didn't need a chalet - I could run events from home in a few years!
I focussed on my letterpress business, Inky and the Beast, and was happy designing and printing and running my workshops. But letterpress is a time-consuming messy business, and my big press (aka The Beast) is a powerful, dangerous machine. It was becoming harder to fit everything I wanted to do around my daughters (pesky kids!).
Meanwhile, the people who were coming to my workshops almost all had the same thing in common - whether they’d fallen into it or studied and worked for years to get there, they had found themselves in a career they were not enjoying. They wanted to do something more creative. I loved talking to them. I stayed in touch with many, offering advice, support and generally just feeling honoured to witness the beginning and growth of some wonderful small businesses. It has become the most fulfilling part of my own business.
The lightbulb moment!
Now the girls are two and I found myself still window-shopping for these big, Instagrammable country houses, fantasising about the events I could run, the creativity and inspiration I could hopefully curate there. But the move was still so many years away, and I was growing impatient.
Silly, really, that it took this long to occur to me that I didn’t need to live in the space I was inviting people to. I could hire a venue, collaborate with others, and start helping creatives as soon as, well... as soon as now!
This simple realisation struck me only a couple of months ago, but since then I’ve been researching, learning, and creating content in every spare moment - it’s just been a little frustrating I’ve not had that many spare moments to go around. Pesky kids!
But the excitement and anticipation has enveloped me like some sort of magical storm. My stomach is full of butterflies, my mind is chaotic with ideas, my journals heaving with disjointed, hastily made notes on collaborators, venues, caterers, friends who could help, courses I could take, books I must read...
So, where to start?
Back to the drawing board.
Who did I want to come to these events, and why? What did I want them to take away with them? I thought more about my letterpress workshopees, and how much I enjoyed talking to them about their own hopes and dreams.
That was it! Hopes and dreams and jumping into something new. Starting a new business because of those same butterflies and that same unquenchable excitement. Bouncing ideas off one another and supporting each other and growing new friendships.
I didn't want to run your average "learn a new skill, go away with a goody bag and some blog content" retreat. I wanted to run workshops offering practical advice and hands-on learning to creatives from entrepreneurs and small business owners just like them. I wanted to meet the people who couldn't stop day dreaming about their big idea, and who were ready to get to work.
And so that's what I'm working on. Yep, still working on it. This isn't a big fanfare launch (I've never been good at those anyway), because that's not what this business to going to be about. I hope it'll be about sharing, showing our working out, and being honest about our 'Why'. And jumping in maybe before we're completely ready.
I'll be sharing my progress here as regularly as I can, and I'd love to hear about your progress on your own day dream. Find me on Instagram as @sillyheartco, and talk my ear off.